Over the last 20 years lean has been a global movement spearheading improvement in business. Organizations have been looking to solve pressing problems including costs, quality and manufacturing times not to mention keeping their customer satisfied. In today’s healthcare lean is not just for industry!

Healthcare embraces lean

Healthcare services around the world are now embracing lean as a mechanism for change. Using the same tools and methods which are utilized by their industrial counterparts – healthcare professionals are deploying lean to improve patient safety, reduce waiting times, improving patient satisfaction and radically improving efficiency.

Lean has some powerful concepts and professionals are using it to bridge the gap between current patient care and that desired. Concepts such as Value Stream Mapping and standardized processes assist hospital staff both identify and eliminate waste. By preventing delays for patients and improving processes for caregivers we are seeing a step change in the quality of care.

Traditional manufacturing techniques for standarized work and error proofing can be equally applied to healthcare helping to prevent common hospital errors improve safety. Modern healthcare has recognized how lean can assist improving safety and this area in particular has seen dramatic growth.

Managing change is not easy and support organizations have developed around the world in support of lean healthcare – helping hospitals both deploy lean and ensure that it delivers the results required. These support organizations are bringing hospitals together enabling lean practitioners to share their knowledge and for best practice to rolled out between geographically diverse healthcare organizations.

While it is still early days for lean healthcare – given the benefits that have been delivered to manufacturing organizations and its developments in the service sector – it is likely that lean will be around for many years to come.

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